SHAH ABBAS THE GREAT 265 Cotton, to whom we shall return in the next chapter. Nakd Ali Khan, who sailed in the same fleet, but was not allowed to land at the same time as Sherley, poisoned himself on the voyage to India. An allusion to the pensions granted to the Sherleys, who were among the greatest travellers of the age, is probably to be found in Twelfth Night? where Fabian says, " I will not give my part of this sport for a pension of thousands to be paid from the Sophy." . The Administrative Genius of Shah Abbas.—The fame of Shah Abbas does not rest on his military exploits alone : it is also founded on his genius for administration and especially upon the thoroughness with which he took in hand the improvement of communications throughout the Empire. He built caravanserais and bridges in such numbers that every ancient work is now credited to him. Even in muddy Gilan and Mazanderan his famous Sang Farshy or "Stone Carpet," a causeway which traverses the Caspian provinces from east to west, is still used, although to judge from what I saw of it near Astrabad it badly needs repair. The most striking act of his administration was the selection of Isfahan as his capital. There, in the centre of the Empire, on almost the only river of the plateau, a splendid new city grew up, approached by beautiful double avenues of oriental planes and stately bridges, which prepared travellers for the superb buildings that are still preserved to us. Thanks to the number of these travellers, many of whom wrote books, the splendours of the Safavi" dynasty have been described more fully than any other phase of Persian history. To quote Lord Curzon, " Pietro della Valle, Herbert, Olearius, Tavernier, Chardin, Sanson, Daulier-Deslandes, Kaempfer, and Le Brun successively shed the light of an acute and instructed scrutiny upon the scene, and have added to the respective literatures of Italy, Great Britain, Germany, France, and Holland/'2 The Great Shah realized the harm of fanaticism and 1 This play was written in 1601-2, by which date news would have reached England of the splendid reception of the English knights by Shah Abbas. 2 Op. at. vol. ii. p. zz.